A scientist proposes to grow a forest inside a “bubble” on Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — The human desire to become an interplanetary species is caused not only by the fact that this idea has long been actively promoted by science fiction books and films.

Our home planet still has a lot of free space and an abundance of resources, we are committed to taking effective environmental steps to ensure that the Earth does not turn into a giant dump.

However, the rapid growth of the population nullifies our efforts: the ecological situation is deteriorating, and the pressure on even the most abundant resources ( water , for example) is constantly growing. Some experts believe that colonizing other celestial bodies is the only way to save our species.

Cradle of mankind

Our civilization has thrived on terrestrial resources, which makes colonizing other solar system objects incredibly challenging (even assuming we find a way to transport large groups of people over vast distances).

Luckily, Paul Smith, a civil engineer at the University of Bristol, has a plan: he wants to create an Earth forest in a “bubble” on the surface of Mars.

“If population growth is not controlled, natural areas must be sacrificed,” Smith.

“The alternative is to create more habitats, terraform Mars.”

Smith’s idea, we have to admit, is wonderful. In addition, it is quite realizable.

Path to Mars

Mars is obviously very different from Earth – it’s colder, drier, and has a completely different atmosphere. However, under its surface, according to available data, there are huge reservoirs of frozen water ice.

If people can access these resources, then the aforementioned problems can be solved by creating a controlled atmosphere dome (bubble).

The Martian regolith is rich in some elements necessary for agriculture, especially phosphorus. But it is worth noting that it lacks a number of vital micronutrients, as well as soil-enriching microbiota and important organisms such as earthworms.

Smith does not plan to terraform the entire Martian surface. Instead, he proposes creating bubbles that he believes will become “facsimile” models of Earth’s forests and act as oases, offering both emotional and practical benefits to earthlings who have settled on the Red Planet.

Interestingly, Smith’s idea is similar to the interplanetary project of the young Elon Musk, who, even before the creation of SpaceX, dreamed of deploying a small greenhouse on Mars.

“He [the forest bubble on Mars] will be something of an extraterrestrial nature preserve, a psychological refuge and a utilitarian botanical garden,” Smith writes, “maintaining valuable species for colonists to obtain secondary metabolites (vitamins, flavorings, drugs, etc.)”.

A scientist proposes to grow a forest inside a bubble on Mars 2
Shot from the game Mars Colony Builder

The ultra-high levels of radiation on the surface of Mars are probably the biggest obstacle to Smith’s plan, as is our dusty red neighbor’s extremely weak magnetic field, which could negatively affect the growth and development of any vegetation.

A look into the future

Smith’s idea is quite feasible, and it sounds encouraging: by exploring and populating new worlds, we will preserve the one that the Universe once gave us.

“From a biocentric perspective, world leaders should be concerned about the future of life in the universe and humanity’s role in protecting and spreading it,” says Smith.

“On a planet with limited habitability, this is an important duty. The survival of life in any form is the highest biocentric priority.”


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